Naakishchíín

The Navajo word naakishchíín (also known by naakishchiin, in some instances) is the word for siblings that are twins.

If you examine the word, you’ll see a number! Specifically naaki- denotes two (of something). The rest of the word, -shchíín, is derived from the same root that forms the verb deeshchííh (“to give birth”).

Twins are prominent figures in Navajo tradition. They are prominent in early creation stories, and also later on in the form of the warrior twins who laid waste to the big monsters.

Hai

The Navajo word we have for you today is hai, which is how “winter” is said.

Heading into December, the winter season starts to grow, and snow storms and frequent cloud cover start to develop.

Hai stands in contrast to háí, which we featured earlier. Notice the high tone marks on the latter word; the high tonal characteristic turns this three letter word from winter to -> who (as we outlined in this post).

Winter is the time for the creation stories, string games, shoe games, preparation for the coming planting seasons, and (depending on the flock) when special care needs to given to newborn lambs. In a more contemporary sense, this is also the time when people stock up on hay for livestock, prepare for muddy roads, install stoves where needed, and more. Emergency supplies are also collected for those who are immobilized by big storms, as many Navajo families live in remote areas.

Níłch’itsoh

The Navajo word níłch’itsoh is a composite of níłch’i and –tsoh.

That means, literally, “the air/wind that is big.”

And if you remember back a few posts, we had “the small wind.”

The idea that níłch’itsoh conveys is the December timeframe, when storms generally become more aggressive. It is said that around the equinoxes, the summer and winter seasons meet and then turn around to either proceed or walk back. This goes on and results in the rotating seasons.

Try your voice at pronouncing using the clip for níłch’its’ósí.

Ak’éí (Continued…)

The first post for ak’éí gave you the Navajo terms for elderly relatives.

Here are terms for siblings:

  • ádí (shádí / nádí / bádí) – older sister
  • adeezhí (shideezhí / nideezhí / bideezhí) – younger sister
  • ánaaí (shínaaí / nínaaí / bínaaí) – older brother
  • atsilí (shitsilí / nitsilí / bitsilí) – younger brother

The first terms are non possessive, followed by the first, second, then third person forms i.e. “my older sister” / “your older sister” / “his/her older sister.”

It is common to use the term “friend” (shik’is) between brothers. Siblings can refer to each other using ‘shilah’ but only if the siblings are of the opposite sex.

Rounding off this set of terms is the word for a spouse, which is ach’ooní.

(Sometimes it’s helpful to remember the proper sibling terms by recalling that sister terms have ‘ad-’ and in both cases of brother and sister, the elder term starts with a high-tone.)

Check out the clip for the first group of terms here.

Ak’éí

Yá’át’ééh shik’éí dóó shidiné’é. (Greetings my relatives and my people.)

This is a more formal, yet intimate, way of greeting a large group. It’s part of an introduction that commonly precedes a speech, or address, of some sort.

Ak’éí, and most nouns that are preceded by a-, is a non-possessive from of “relatives” and “family.” Add shi/ni/bi/nihi/etc. to say my/your/his (or her)/our (their) family.

Here are a few elder family terms that are useful to know:

In English In Navajo (Diné Bizaad)
amá mother
azhé’é father
amá sání maternal grandmother
acheii maternal grandfather
análí asdzą́ą́ maternal grandmother
análí hastiin paternal grandfather

In combination with the Diné (Navajo) clan system, these words can extend outside the immediate family. For example, if a woman’s second clan (her father’s clan) were the same as another man’s first clan (his mother’s clan), she calls him her older/younger father depending on his age relative to her own father’s age. There are many unique relationships that arise from this system.